Former NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson urged Western leaders to be prepared for escalation by Vladimir Putin as he tore the Russian President’s “neurotic” propaganda apart. He said Putin has increasingly become more immersed in his deluded idea of Russian history.
Lord Robertson told Deutsche Welle: “I think we’ve got to be very worried about incidents that can take place that might lead to escalation. I’m not sure whether this particular incident falls into that category — we need to know much more about it — but I think it’s being handled reasonably soberly at the present moment.
“The invasion of Ukraine was one of the biggest provocations we have seen in the last 30 years, so we can probably expect more provocations in the future and we need to be ready to face them.
“We believed Putin would be a partner in many of the difficulties we faced when he came to office. Terrorism, climate change, and population movements were difficulties for Russia. As a result, many of the risks were widespread, and it appeared that Vladimir Putin shared a common perspective on security at the time.”
The former NATO chief said Putin “has gradually altered his viewpoint over time, growing much more neurotic, demanding, and immersed in some idea of Russian history”.
He added: “Vladimir Putin seems to claim that Gorbachev was tricked on NATO enlargement. He seems to claim that [former President Boris] Yeltsin was tricked into signing the Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Accords.”
He argued that Putin’s propaganda is based on “total dishonesty”.
He continued: “What I know is that in May 2002, Vladimir Putin himself signed the Rome Declaration along with me and 19 other signatories, which protected the territorial integrity of all states. And specifically that day he guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine. So the Russian propaganda is based on lies.”
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Lord Robertson’s claims came as The International Criminal Court said Friday that it has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.
It was the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The ICC said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow — and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough.
Its practical implications, however, could be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.
But the moral condemnation will likely stain the Russian leader for the rest of his life — and in the more immediate future whenever he seeks to attend an international summit in a nation bound to arrest him.